WASHINGTON – Christians are the most persecuted group in the world, but most in the West don’t identify with the persecuted Church, a Congressional hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee contended this week.
Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) opened the hearing by outlining various reports of Christian persecution in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Nigeria. He told the story of Habila Adamu, a Nigerian businessman who was shot for his faith in November 2012.
“[M]asked gunmen armed with AK-47 entered his home. They told his wife to leave, as they were here to ‘do the work of Allah,’” Smith explained, noting that moments later the men asked Adamu if he was a Christian and why he had not accepted Islam.
“I am a Christian. We are also preaching the gospel of the true God to you and to other people who do not yet know God,” Adamu replied to the gunmen.
“Habila, are you ready to die as a Christian?” then men asked. “I am ready to die as a Christian,” Adamu replied.
“They asked him again, ‘Are you ready to die as a Christian?’” Smith relayed. “[Adamu] replied, ‘I am ready,’ and before he had closed his mouth, a bullet ripped through him.”
Adamu miraculously survived. Smith held up a photo to show where the bullet had exited the Christian’s body.
Elliott Abrams, Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), also spoke at the hearing. He highlighted the prevalence of Christian persecution in countries such as Iran, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Vietnam, Sudan, Central Africa Republic, North Korea, Egypt, Indonesia, Burma and Nigeria.
“To a disproportionate extent, Christians in many of these nations signify the ‘other,’” he said. “They often are members of ethnic or language minorities, or are viewed as linked to the West and Western interests. In many of these nations, Christianity also represents an alternative source of authority, thereby posing a direct threat both to tyrannical governments and extremist private actors.”
John Allen Jr., the associate editor of the Boston Globe and the author of the Global War on Christians, remarked that Christian persecution is often “wrapped in a blanket of silence, not only by the secular media but even within Christian churches themselves.” He said that most of the world’s 2.3 billion Christians are poor and under oppression, and look nothing like most American Christians.
“The truth is that the typical Christian in today’s world is not an affluent American male pulling up to church in a Lincoln Continental,” Alllen stated. “It’s a poor black woman and mother of four in Botswana, or a poor Dalit grandmother in Orissa.”
“The Pew Forum found that Christians suffered some form of harassment, either de jure or de facto, in 139 countries between 2006 and 2010, the largest total for any religious group,” he said. “The finding means that Christians are at-risk in two-thirds of all nations on earth.”